District 3 Congressman Raul Grijalva has publically come out in opposition to building a new highway, Interstate 11, in the Avra Valley west of Tucson. In comments submitted to the Arizona Dept. of Transportation’s I-11 Study Team, Grijalva expressed support for transportation corridors along Interstates 10 and 19, saying this option would “most benefit” Tucson and the Pima County metro region. He noted that the Avra Valley alternative options would have “a negative impact on dark skies, wilderness values, and quality of life for residents of that community.”
The Congressman echoed criticisms of an Avra Valley I-11 route that the Avra Valley Coalition has been making since it first surfaced as the “I-10 Bypass” ten years ago, with a subsequent route laid out and championed by Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry in 2013.
Grijalva joins LD 11 State Representatives Mark Finchem and Vince Leach, and State Senator Steve Smith, in criticizing an Avra Valley route, along with the City of Tucson, Arizona Game & Fish Dept., National Park Service, US Bureau of Land Management, US Bureau of Reclamation, Environmental Protection Agency, Friends of Ironwood National Monument, Sierra Club, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, and many more.
Over a thousand comments from Avra Valley-area residents were submitted during this phase of the I-11 study process, virtually all opposing a new highway through their homeland. Contrary to Huckelberry’s championing of the Avra Valley route, the Pima County Board of Supervisors is on record in Resolution 2007-343 opposing “any new highways in or around the County that have the stated purpose of bypassing the existing Interstate 10 as it is believed that the environmental, historic, archaeological and urban form impacts could not be adequately mitigated.”
I-11 Study Project Manager Jay Van Echo had scheduled to be the guest speaker at the monthly Citizens for Picture Rocks meeting, Tuesday, June 20, 6:30 p.m. at the Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road. He has since cancelled that event.
Opponents from the Avra Valley Coalition and National Parks Conservation Association spoke at the community group’s May meeting. Meetings are open to all without charge.
Rep. Grijalva’s statement is below: